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In America's Dairyland, farmers look to goats for more milk production

In America's Dairyland, farmers look to goats for more milk production

The dairy cow has a new companion, if not competition, with some farmers looking at the animal as a new source of income to augment the traditional milk cow.
Adam VanDen Bosch likes dairy farming, but not working with cows, so about four years ago he persuaded his father to switch the family dairy farm to one that milks goats.
"Goats have a lot more personality," said AdamVanDen Bosch, 23, who prefers the animal to cows and convinced his father to switch their dairy farm from cows to goats. "They are a lot easier to manage."
While goats are not exactly butting heads with cows for milk-producing supremacy in Wisconsin, a state that bills itself as America's Dairyland, more and more goat herds are grazing on a rural landscape that once was almost exclusively reserved for dairy cows.
The state has only about 19,500 goats compared to 1.24 million dairy cows, according to the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service, which surveyed the state's goat dairy industry in September. Still, the survey showed 42 percent of the goat farmers had been milking for less than five years, and 79 percent of them planned to increase the size of their herds during the next five years.
Most of the goat milk produced in Wisconsin eventually becomes cheese, said Larry Hedrich, president of the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Association.
"We are a niche market," he said. "I don't believe the dairy goat industry will ever challenge the dairy cow industry in size in the state. But it will complement it."
Wisconsin's profile in the dairy goat industry got two boosts this year:
_ In June, Woolwich Dairy, Canada's largest goat cheese processor, announced plans to open a production facility next summer in southwestern Wisconsin to serve as the firm's U.S. headquarters.
_ In the fall, the American Dairy Goat Association held its national convention in Milwaukee.
Goat cheeses are becoming a growing part of the state's cheese industry, said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.
"It's commanding good prices," he said.
Increasingly, cheesemakers are blending goat cheese with cow-milk cheese to form new cheese products.
"It's allowing these folks to be creative," Umhoefer said.
Anne Topham, who began raising dairy goats in Ridgeway about 35 miles , or 56 kilometers, west of Madison in 1980 and making goat cheese in 1984, said attitudes have changed over the years as she has sold her cheeses at the farmers' market in the state's capital city.
"We used to have to do a lot of teaching and cajoling just to get people to try goat cheese," she said. "Now, most have tried some kind of goat cheese, and we just have to convince them to try ours."
Apart from cheesemaking, goat milk is popular among those with allergies to cow's milk and those who have sensitive digestive systems.
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On the Net:
http://www.wdga.org


Updated : 2021-04-12 12:29 GMT+08:00